This article was originally published in 2016 and didn’t appear on my blog until now.

(Bonn, 05.08.2016) Within the framework of a meeting at Oxford of the Religious Liberty Partnership, a network of global NGOs advocating religious freedom, leading academics have discussed how the question of the infringement of religious freedom is treated so much as an afterthought within academic research.

From the left: Prof. Douglas Bandow, Prof. Roger Trigg, Prof. Nazila Ghanea, Prof. Thomas Schirrmacher

The Director of the International Institute for Religious Freedom criticized that even at those locations where the topic is addressed academically, it is mostly only discussed theoretically. Seldom is the true local situation the subject of investigation. This applies not only when it comes to law, sociology, and the study of religion. Rather, it also applies to Christian theology, which in his view mostly treats the topic as an afterthought in dogmatics, church history, and practical theology.

The discussion was held between Schirrmacher and the following scholars:

  • Prof. Dr. Douglas Bandow, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank located in Washington, D.C., who worked as a Special Assistant to the US President and conducts research on military non-interventionism and the relationship between religion and politics.
  • Prof. Dr. Roger Trigg, Senior Fellow at the Ian Ramsey Centre of St. Cross College at the University of Oxford as well as an Associate Scholar within the framework of the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown’s Berkley Center in Washington, D.C.; from 2008 to 2010 he was President of the European Society for Philosophy of Religion, which conducts research on the relationship between religion and politics, and between science and the public sphere.
  • Prof. Dr. Nazila Ghanea, a British Lecturer for International Human Rights Law at University of Oxford, who works as an adviser in questions relating to human rights for a number of governments as well as the UN, UNESCO, the OSCE, and the EU and conducts research on religious freedom, freedom of expression, women’s rights, minority rights, and human rights in the Near East and the Middle East.

Also present for the discussion were leading British proponents of the topic in government and Parliament, namely The Baroness Elizabeth Rose Berridge, who has been in the House of Lords since 2011 and is responsible for the network of 67 British parliamentarians for religious freedom, and the diplomat Sue Breeze, who was most recently the Deputy Ambassador in Venezuela and is now a team leader in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London with the task of protecting and promoting religious freedom, at the same time in association with other equal rights, at all levels for the British executive branch.

The Coptic General Bishop of Great Britain, Anba Angealos, and the Co-Director of the International Institute for Religious Freedom, Prof. Dr. Christof Sauer, were also among the participants.

 

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